How much do you rely on Auto Settings?

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by Wandering_Pugilist, Jun 17, 2008.

  1. Wandering_Pugilist

    Wandering_Pugilist TPF Noob!

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    So this is a beginner's question aimed more at the seasoned veterns of photography. I don't mean "full auto", but moreso the the priority modes i.e. shutter priority, aperature priority (not sure if there are other ones LOL).

    It seems like more of the experienced photographers shoot in full manual mode but I'm not sure if that's just the distaste of "auto" being associated with "amateur" or if the picture quality is better overall, or I could just be making the wrong assumption in the first place.

    A lot of times I can gauge one setting, i.e. the proper shutter speed, but not the aperture, or vice versa. So I guess my question is two-fold. Do a lot of you that have more experience in photography still use the semi-auto functions on your cameras and if not, how do you go about gauging the settings in certain situations (without a light meter if possible)? Does it just come with practice? (ok that was three questions but you get my point)
     
  2. Moglex

    Moglex TPF Noob!

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    To answer your last question first, it's virtually impossible for a human to gauge exposure accurately by eye except in very specific circumstances (e.g. for an open landscape in bright sunlight at the same time of day).

    This is because a sizable chunk of your brain is devoted to making things look the same under wildly different lighting conditions.

    If you have a manual camera, shooting manually is easy but on a DSLR with full auto it can be much more fiddly.

    In most types of photography one setting is more important than another: if the subject is moving you must set a high enough shutter speed. If it isn't you will often want to set a particular aperture for depth of field reasons.

    Answering your question properly is difficult without knowing exactly why you are asking it.

    Do you just feel the desire to 'do it like the pros'?

    If so, I would say: forget it.

    Some may disagree but I would say a good photographer will take all the help a camera will give (whilst being aware of it's limitations), enabling her/him to spend more time being creative.

    Of course, a technically skilled photographer will be able to use equipment without any automatic features but there is no real reason to aspire to that level of skill if you are happy being creative.

    OTOH you can be more creative if you fully understand the implications of all the settings (and can thus override them on occasion).

    Sorry this answer rambles a bit but the question is one that would be much better discussed in a leisurely fashion over a couple of pints.
     
  3. Steph

    Steph No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I am not so sure about this. I heard of experienced photographers that are able to guess exposure within half a stop and get it right most of the time without the help of a lightmeter. I guess it requires a lot of practice but it is certainly not impossible.
     
  4. Wandering_Pugilist

    Wandering_Pugilist TPF Noob!

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    Not necessarily. I would want to 'do it like the pros', if that meant better pictures, but not just for the sake of saying, "hey, this picture was taken in full manual". I often shoot in shutter priority or aperature priority but I often wonder if I'm compensating picture quality/creativity by relying on the machine, and if I am, learning full manual is better sooner than later.

    Probably true. :lol:
     
  5. Moglex

    Moglex TPF Noob!

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    I think that they can do this for situations with which they are familair under specific conditions.

    What I don't believe is that, say, a landscape photographer could go into a studio and work out the exposure of a lamp lit portrait by eye.

    What I'm saying is that if you are extremely experienced at a certain subject and have learned all the required subject clues and lighting 'clues' you can probably evaluate exposures under that set of conditions with great accuracy but you can't generally use that experience with any subject and any lighting conditions with which you are presented.
     
  6. tirediron

    tirediron Watch the Birdy! Staff Member Supporting Member

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    To respond to the OPs question: What mode I'm in depends completely on what I'm doing. If I am photographing a scene, then I will normally be in Manual so that I have maximum control over shutter speed and DoF. If I am hand-holding long glass, I'll use shutter priority to ensure that I don't fall below a "safe" hand-held speed for that particular lens. When I'm just walking around (eg travel photos) then I'll leave the camera on 'Program' (fully automatic) so that I'm ready to point and shoot if a split-second opportunity presents itself.
    Moglex, you're a bit off base with your comment concerning the human eye and it's ability to gauge exposure. Check out this (there are many others) guide to the Daylight Exposure Rule: http://www.glamour1.com/tips/bdeguide.php
    Being familiar with this guide can be invaluable for outdoor photography, and can let you know when something has tricked your meter.
    I agree with the rest of your points however.
     
  7. Sandspur

    Sandspur TPF Noob!

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    My guess is that a large percentage of pros and advanced amateurs are shooting Aperture Priority. I know I sure do. Of course, I'm paying attention to shutter speed, but as long as I know I'm safe and will have no blur due to camera movement, I just go with it.

    And I also shoot Program mode a lot (which many will frown on).

    But the point is -- know your capability, know your equipment, and know what you want to accomplish. Then, put all thought of settings behind you and compose a photograph.
     
  8. Moglex

    Moglex TPF Noob!

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    Why frown on it?

    With a modern DSLR under some shooting conditions it provides a good starting point that saves a lot of dial twiddling compared to full manual.
     
  9. Mav

    Mav TPF Noob!

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  10. elemental

    elemental TPF Noob!

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    I went through a stage where I felt like I had to use full manual to be a real photographer. However, since I shoot under all sorts of varying light conditions according to my whims, I was just zeroing the light meter, taking test shots, and adjusting accordingly. When I realized this was more or less the same as Aperture Priority but more cumbersome, I switched and now shoot primarily Av. This saves a ton of time for me, and I have learned to more or less know when and where I'll need to compensate by using the +/- EV system.

    I think that Aperture Priority and Shutter Priority can be extremely useful tools for any modern photographer seeking to save time in unfamiliar conditions.

    As for sacrificing picture quality, there is a correct exposure for each scene or image you picture in your head. How you get there doesn't matter, all that matters is you expose your shot correctly. Whether this means P, Av, Tv, or M, do what it takes.


    My answer to your original question is that I don't "rely" on my automatic modes, I simply use them as tools to allow me to get the exposures I want. I fully understand everything that the camera is doing for me, but it is at worst significantly simpler and at best the difference between a missed shot and a perfect shot to let the camera do the busywork sometimes.
     
  11. Chewbecca

    Chewbecca TPF Noob!

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    I have only had my camera for 3-4 weeks. I shoot full manual...97% of the time. But that is ONLY because (as odd and as backwards as this may sound), I haven't been able to perfect the other modes. hahahaha. Not that I have manual perfected, but I have a comfort zone in manual mode. I will SOMETIMES shoot in aperture priority if I'm shooting a still shot that I don't need high shutter speeds at. "P" mode? What's that...:lmao:
    Nah, I haven't messed with that mode too much, that's all. I'm just SUCH a beginner that I haven't learned my other modes yet. Hell, I'm not happy with inside shots that require flash because I haven't been able to get THAT down yet.
     
  12. Miaow

    Miaow TPF Noob!

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    I tend to shoot in P or Manual depending on what I'm doing.

    PS Mav - I was thinking of posting a link to that also till I saw you had :D
     

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